Australia To Consider Coronavirus Vaccine Passports Amid International Travel Hopes
Vaccine passports enabling Australians to travel overseas are not a matter of ‘if’ but ‘when’, leading industry experts say.
With the country’s Coronavirus vaccine rollout approaching two million doses, international travel is moving closer to reopening.
With countries and continents like the UK, Europe, and Canada announcing plans to introduce a digital vaccine passport system, experts predict Australia is not far from doing the same.
Michael Maher, CEO of Melbourne-based electronic passport platform OnePassport, is in discussions with federal and state governments about using his app for vaccine passports.
OnePassport is an electronic immunisation register that can record various vaccine and virus test results.
Vaccinations can be verified through the app, with the individual being able to scan the batch details upon immunisation.
Maher recently submitted briefs to the offices of Trade Minister Dan Tehan and Education Minister Alan Tudge as the governments actively weigh options for implementing a digital vaccine passport.
He believes vaccine passports are the way of the future.
“I believe this is a new reality,” Mr Maher said.
“I don’t believe [vaccines] will be made mandatory, but I do think it will be required to travel internationally.”
Mr Maher predicts testing negative for COVID-19 before boarding overseas flights will be the first measure implemented when international travel resumes.
“A recent negative test result will likely be first for international travel … one before you fly, one before you arrive,” he said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison last week said he was open to the idea of “vaccine passports” to allow people to travel more freely.
He said the topic was something his medical expert panel was “working on right now”.
“I think that is the next step, but I do think that next step is some way away,” Mr Morrison said.
“If you’re fully vaccinated, that you would be able to travel, certainly around Australia, but maybe overseas, without the need for hotel quarantine.”
Alan Joyce, CEO of Qantas, reminded Australians that they will likely need the COVID-19 vaccine in order to travel overseas.
The EU intends to implement a ‘Digital Green Pass’ by the end of June.
This would be a health certificate that allows EU citizens vaccinated against COVID-19 to travel safely around the continent.
It would also allow those who have tested negative or recently recovered from the virus to move around freely.
The British government is also working with Scotland, Wales, and Ireland counterparts to establish a vaccine passport.
Mr Maher said the “technology exists” for Australian stadiums and venues to roll out something similar to verify crowds at events and sporting games.
“It almost combines the immunisation passport and the QR code system,” he said.
In terms of the next step to roll out a vaccine passport, Mr Maher said it was about working with both state and federal governments to agree on a solution.